A couple of days back I explained how a typical Mr Unvailable or assclown (or maybe he’s both) uses passive aggression in the relationship to absolve himself of any responsibility but also to do nothing. But…would you be surprised to know that we can indulge in our own passive-aggressive behaviour too?
Passive aggression is about trying to get your own way by essentially doing nothing, or doing exactly what you intended to do, even though you may have made noises to the contrary to the other party.
Now it’s safe to say that part of the reason why women get involved with men who are passive aggressive is because his behaviour mimics patterns that they are all too familiar with from their childhood. If you’re with a passive-aggressive man, it’s likely that one or both of your parents controlled their relationship with this behaviour. Like in a number of childhood situations that foster eventual emotional unavailability, you probably felt helpless being caught up in this family dynamic because much like in your present, back then, one person was getting their own way by silently manouevring around the other person whilst the recipient was no doubt pissed off and frustrated at their behaviour and the results of it. You probably tried to help but were likely powerless, so in adulthood, it’s almost like righting the wrongs of your past by trying to be successful in surpassing this behaviour.
The thing is that you’re bound to be frustrated because its like getting the same results, different year, and once again, your efforts are unappreciated.
You want to help him because he seems helpless or feigns helplessness about his problems but on the flipside, his treatment of you will at times feel like an attack on you or you’ll at the least feel like your generosity is being abused. But because you’re so used to his behaviour, you’ll get caught up in trying to manage him and manage yourself around it.
Trouble is…he’ll more often than not outwit you.
That annoying word ‘neediness’ comes home to roost in these relationships because it is your apparent ‘neediness’ that will draw you into these situations, and then of course, as usual your needs don’t get met and you feel frustrated and are either silent simmering hoping for things to change, or trying to verbalise your anger in a way that will win out over him and force him to take action so that you get what you want.
Now we often feel like victims to their behaviour because we appear to be the party that is the only one working hard to save the relationship, but remember that choosing partners that reflect negative things we believe about ourselves, love, and relationships, is a self-fulfilling prophecy where we know the outcome.
In this situation, you’ll find that you’re always with men who are incapable of meeting your needs so you’re left wanting, but on the flipside you always choose men who are inherently incapable of giving you what you want, so you constantly feel invalidated by their behaviour.
You’ll get pissed off, angry, possibly even more needy, and him being how he is, he’ll retreat to in essence, ‘bring you to heel’.
He’ll manage down your expectations until he feels he can ‘manage’ you and when you get essentially backed into this corner, you’ll feel like it’s the negative behaviour that you display that’s holding your relationship back, so there’s more self-blame to heap on yourself, and of course your self-esteem is going to nosedive because of the lack of success of this relationship.
Many women are focused on trying to get their men to change so that they can validate themselves but also so that they can get him to meet their idea of what they think he and the relationship could be. Rather than opt out of the relationship when clear red flags are displayed, boundaries are crossed, and there is no foundation, they just dig in for the long haul and try to force the relationship.
By staying there, having endless discussions, telling him every iota of thought that passes through your brain, telling him how unappreciated you are, how much you love him, how nobody gets him like you do, what he should be doing, what he isn’t doing, and how you can’t put up with this for much longer, you are actually indulging in various types of passive aggression.
You’re not leaving but you hope that by saying you might leave and how this is his ‘last’ chance, that it will suddenly galvanise him into action.
You’re hearing but you’re not listening, so even when he does tell you point blank what he can or cannot do, you hear something else or decide that you know better.
You tell him that you’re ‘cool’ with the relationship and make out that you’re happy to go along with whatever arrangement he has fostered upon you, and then ‘secretly’ try engineer things to the way he professes not to want them, which is when his obstinateness kicks in.
You don’t see him as he really is. You see him in a past light (often brief behaviour that he exhibited) or in the wonderful glow of future light where you’re betting on potential and most of your efforts about getting him to be one of these guys. You’re quietly forcing your version of the relationship upon him.
Ultimately, your relationships end up being like standoffs. You hope that your inaction will win out so that he is forced to change rather than you opting out and having to look closer at your own behaviour. Unfortunately this rarely, if ever works.
You can only be responsible for your own capacity to change so if you don’t want your relationships to be full of inaction, you have to be the party that takes action.
You don’t have to continue to take part in these relationships, feeling perpetually disappointed, unappreciated, frustrated, and used, with your self-esteem in tatters. In part 3, I’ll give some suggestions for combatting this behaviour. You will find that when you set boundaries in your relationships, adapt your communication style, and follow through on maintaining your boundaries and things that you say, even if they cause uncomfortableness, life actually becomes easier.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on passive aggression? Do you see yourself as passive aggressive?